Street dance, capoeira and Brazilian percussion music brought together eight teams of girls taking part in the Street Child World Cup with local children and adolescents during a visit to the Vidigal favela on Tuesday.
“Art has the power to show the children that they are great,” said Renato Rocha, SCWC’s artistic director, who curated the relaxing day of music, arts and sports activities for girls from England, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Philippines, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. “It also shows the child’s family and the wider community that this child has potential and can do something.”
“The arts also help us to understand our feelings,” he said.
Many girls were clearly feeling happy as Ria from Indonesia played the Atabaque drum and girls from several teams tried out capoeira moves. A group from the Nos do Morro theatre group, which produced the actors for the film City of God, performed street dance and a rap about the community of Vidigal, which has a long tradition of the arts and a reputation for producing talent.
Earlier, the girls had weaved their way through the narrow streets of the community, greeting locals and admiring the stunning views after stopping at the Nos do Morro theatre, which was formed 30 years ago. “The theatre was formed to make theatre accessible to the people who don’t have these opportunities,” said Marcelo Melo from Nos do Morro, explaining that the group perform classic and community theatre.
Jack Ferguson, a trainer with the England girls’ team, said he relished watching the girls from Islington, London join others on the stage. “It’s great to see our girls up there dancing, it’s so pleasing. We can just sit back and watch.”
The girls from NGO Meninos da Mocambique, who have delighted onlookers with their dancing since they arrived at the tournament last week, also got to their feet with the group of Brazilian teenagers.
All the girls also had the chance to add their stamp to a large mural of a maternal figure holding dozens of small houses in her open arms; girls drew pictures, composed poems and wrote messages about their hopes. Artist Joel Bergner is also painting a mural at the Lonier site, to which the children are invited to contribute. This one features Rodrigo Kelton, the captain of the Brazilian boys’ team, from O Pequeno Nazareno, in Fortaleza who was killed in February. It will be completed on Saturday.
“In many cultures, a mural is a sign of respect,” said Bergner. “The boys chose a picture of him as a tribute.”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”